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Saban, Meyer, Harbaugh, Swinney and more among 19 Dodd Trophy watch list candidates

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When you really think about it, a watch list for a college football award is nothing more than a way to keep public relations staffers in college football programs busy this summer. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it is nice to have a number of key players for the upcoming season highlighted whenever possible (unless you are a Big Ten team going to Big Ten media days). But a watch list is generally pretty pointles sin the long run for most awards. This is especially true for a watch list of college football coaches.

The Dodd Trophy watch list was released today with a list of 19 coaches from many of the top programs around the country. Yep, a watch list for head coaches. Silly, right? It really is the easiest watch list to put together.

The award watch list, compiled by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, includes four coaches from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC, two coaches from the Big 12 and one from the American Athletic Conference. You know all of the names, like national championship coaches Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Dabo Swinney; household names like Jim Harbaugh, Mark Richt, Bill Snyder, and Chris Petersen; and conference championship coaches like David Shaw, James Franklin.

Some notable names not on the list? How about Jimbo Fisher of Florida State? Fisher has a playoff contender in Tallahassee and is the ACC favorite. He also has a national championship ring. Not having Fisher on a preseason watch list for top coaches seems like a bad oversight. Not having new Big 12 coaches Tom Herman (Texas) and Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma) also feels like a swing and a miss if pulling together a list of potential coach of the year candidates. If we are not going to just list all 130 head coaches in FBS, it seems silly to have such a weird collection of watch list candidates when Butch Jones is on the list.

Five coaches on the watch list are former winners of the Dodd Trophy; Snyder, Petersen, Swinney, Saban, and Paul Johnson. Paul Chryst, Ken Niumatalolo, and Petersen were finalists for the award last season as well.

2017 Dodd Trophy Watch List

  • Paul Chryst, Wisconsin
  • James Franklin, Penn State
  • Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech
  • Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
  • Jim Harbaugh, Michigan
  • Clay Helton, USC
  • Paul Johnson, Georgia Tech
  • Butch Jones, Tennessee
  • Gus Malzahn, Auburn
  • Jim McElwain, Florida
  • Urban Meyer, Ohio State
  • Ken Niumatalolo, Navy
  • Chris Petersen, Washington
  • Mark Richt, Miami
  • Nick Saban, Alabama
  • David Shaw, Stanford
  • Bill Snyder, Kansas State
  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson
  • Kyle Whittingham, Utah

T. Boone Pickens prefers Houston and SMU for Big 12 expansion, rips Boren, still not besties with Gundy

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If you though the rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State was strictly on the football field, think again. Bedlam reaches beyond the gridiron and now has T. Boone Pickens slinging mud at Oklahoma president David Boren.

According to Kirk Bohls of The Austin American-Statesman, the Oklahoma State donor shared some comments about the Big 12 expansion saga that continues to drag its feet. Pickens reportedly prefers the Big 12 to add within the current Big 12 foot print by inviting Houston and SMU from the American Athletic Conference. That’s probably good news for fans of Houston and SMU, if they believe Boone’s influence carries any weight in this process (it doesn’t, but we don’t have to pour cold water on this subject for now). But the interesting part of the report included a jab at Oklahoma’s president, who recently appeared to suggest he was fine with a 10-team Big 12 only to respond by saying no decisions have been made where Oklahoma stands on expansion.

“I’ve known David forever. He likes to talk. He gets a little bit confused sometimes,” Pickens said. He also suggested “maybe it’s time for David to retire.”

Pickens also updated his relationship status with Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.

“I don’t have any conversations with Gundy,” Pickens said. In late December 2014 there appeared to be some friction between the head coach and top donor when Pickens proclaimed he didn’t care who coached the team while suggesting he will always support the program and university, his alma mater. Gundy looked to make sure the two were on common ground. Things appeared to have smoothed over by the following spring, but the two are not exactly hanging out together in their spare time.

“I don’t know, but Mike doesn’t handle people relationships very well. And he gets mad about things,” Pickens explained. “I’ve heard he’s written some notes about me that weren’t very complimentary.”

Excuse me while I file away a Freedom of Information Act request for access to these notes…

Mike Gundy only wants Power 5 officials for home games

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As Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy looks to move on from a controversial loss against Central Michigan, he is taking steps to ensure he only plays games at home with power conference officials maintaining order on the field.

A day after the MAC and Big 12 each suspended officials for a disaster of an ending Saturday between Oklahoma State and Central Michigan, Gundy is making it perfectly clear he will not sign another contract with a team for a game in Stillwater unless he can have Power 5 conference officials on the field. This would, in theory, lead to better officiating crews working games and potentially diminish the chances for a blown call in a crucial moment. In theory. More importantly, if the officiating crew on the field comes from the same conference as the crew in the instant replay booth, a higher percent chance of having some uniformity in the decision-making and rules enforcement could be expected.

Saturday’s game featured officials from the MAC on the field and a Big 12 instant replay booth. Under Gundy’s new approach, he will no longer play a game that has officials from a Group of Five conference, but officials from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC would still be OK by him.

“In a contract with a Power 5 school, you’re going to exchange officials on your one-to-one games. Otherwise, I would not go into a game without Big 12 officials,” Gundy said. “We’re playing a school that does not want to use our officials, you move on and find another school.”

On Sunday, Gundy released a statement about the bizarre final play of the game that cost his team a victory. Oklahoma State hosts Pittsburgh of the ACC this week, which means there will most definitely be officials from power conferences to handle the referee duties.

Mike Gundy releases statement on blown ending vs. CMU

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Taking a loss when the officials have been confirmed to have blown a call at the end of the game has to be a bitter pill to swallow, but Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is handling it about as well as any coach you could imagine. A day after seeing his Cowboys lose to Central Michigan as a result of a play that never should have taken place, Gundy said what’s done is done and it is time to move on.

“I’m disappointed in myself that I called a play that could have been interpreted as intentional grounding,” Gundy said of the final offensive play executed by Oklahoma State. “That play has been on our playbooks for 12 years now and intentional grounding and an untimed down after the last play of the game bever even crossed my mind. Of course in hindsight, I wish I would have done it differently, but in the big picture the game should have been over.”

Officials awarded Central Michigan one final untimed down after calling Oklahoma State for intentional grounding on fourth down. As confirmed later by rules officials, the officiating crew should not have awarded an untimed down due to the penalty being a loss-of-down penalty on the final play. The game should have ended after the penalty without Central Michigan getting a chance to run an unbelievable Hail Mary and lateral for a stunning win in Stillwater. Gundy didn’t necessarily let the officials off the hook, but he did so in a respectful manner.

“While I’m disappointed in myself, I am also disappointed that we had 10 rules officials who didn’t properly apply the rule. I give credit to Central Michigan for coming up with a great play and executing it as well as they did.”

Gundy went on to explain why he was releasing this statement today, and it is merely to begin turning the page for his team.

“In our program, we talk all the time about controlling the things we can control and not getting caught up in the things we can’t control,” Gundy said. “We can control how we focus and prepare for Pittsburgh [Oklahoma State’s next opponent this week]. We can’t control the decisions that were made Saturday, so I do not believe it benefits our coaches or players to dwell on them and rehash them beyond what we already did during post-game interviews, the comments that our athletic director made yesterday and now with this statement from me today.”

Mike Gundy says “no question” Big 12 will be in College Football Playoff


The Big 12 may have been left out of the College Football Playoff fun last season, but Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy says that will not happen again this season.

Ah, but which Big 12 team?

One-loss co-champions TCU and Baylor were each passed over for the College Football Playoff last season, the first year of the new postseason championship format. Alabama, Oregon, Florida State and Ohio State each received a spot from the selection committee, while TCU and Baylor were each sent to remaining New Years Six bowl games. This season is off to another solid start for the Big 12 playoff hopefuls in Fort Worth and Waco and the two do not face each other until late November. The Big 12 could have what turns out to be a defacto Big 12 championship game in Fort Worth, and a spot in the playoff could be within reach for the winner.

That is, of course, unless Gundy’s Oklahoma State or Oklahoma can have an impact on the Big 12 race. Oklahoma State is off to a 3-0 start in big 12 play and is also 6-0 midway through the season. Oklahoma State also gets both TCU and Baylor at home in Stillwater, so Gundy knows his program has a very good chance to make some interesting things happen in the conference. Just for good measure, Oklahoma State also hosts Oklahoma in this year’s Bedlam game a week after hosting Baylor. With one conference loss (to Texas), the Sooners are not out of the Big 12 picture just yet either, although Oklahoma’s path to a Big 12 title is trickier than Oklahoma State’s. The Sooners get TCU at home but must play at Baylor and Oklahoma State.

The Big 12 is still in a position where its championship push could end up dooming the conference’s playoff hopes, but seeing TCU and Baylor continue to stay high in the rankings is a positive sign. We will get a good idea of just how the Big 12 stands this season soon enough with the first release of the College Football Playoff selection committee rankings coming up in a couple of weeks.